Skip to main content

Full text of "The story of Skaga Belus [microform]"

See other formats




{/       /€^ 




If  li^  IIIIIM 


1^  1^ 

MX    litt 



1.25     1.4 


<4 6"     - 






WEBSTER,  N.Y.  14580 

(716)  872-4503 




Collection  de 

Canadian  Institute  for  Historical  Microreproductions  /  Institut  Canadian  de  microreproductions  historiques 

Technical  and  Bibliographic  Notes/Notes  techniques  et  bibliographiques 

The  Institute  has  attempted  to  obtain  the  best 
original  copy  available  for  filming.  Features  of  this 
copy  which  may  be  bibtiographically  unique, 
which  may  alter  any  of  the  images  in  the 
reproduction,  or  which  may  significantly  change 
the  usual  method  of  filming,  are  checked  below. 

□    Coloured  covers/ 
Couverture  de  couleur 

□    Covers  damaged/ 
Couverture  endommag6e 

□    Covers  restored  and/or  laminated/ 
Couveiture  restaurie  et/ou  pellicul6e 

□    Cover  title  missing/ 
Le  titre  de  couverture  manque 

I      I    Coloured  maps/ 

Cartes  g^ographiques  en  couleur 

I I    El 

oloured  ink  (i.e.  other  than  blue  or  black)/ 
Encre  de  couleur  (i.e.  autre  que  bleurt  ou  noire) 

I — I    Coloured  plates  and/or  :!iustrations/ 

L'lnsti*ut  a  microfilm6  le  meilleur  exemplaire 
qu'il  iu.  a  6t6  possible  de  se  procurer.  Les  details 
de  cet  exemplaire  qui  sont  peut-§tre  uniques  du 
point  de  vue  bibliographique.  qui  peuver.t  modifier 
une  image  reproduite,  ou  qui  peuvent  exiger  une 
modification  dans  la  m^thode  normale  de  filmage 
sont  indiqu6s  ci-dessous. 

□    Coloured  pages/ 
Pages  de  couleur 

□    Pages  damaged/ 
Pages  endommag^es 

□    Pages  restored  and/or  laminated/ 
Pages  restaur^es  et/ou  pellicul^es 

□    Pages  discoloured,  stained  or  foxed/ 
Pages  dScolorees,  tachetSes  ou  piqu^es 

□    Pages  detached/ 
Pages  d^tachees 

□    Showthrough/ 


Quality  of  print  varies/ 
Qualite  in6gale  de  I'impression 

j      I    Includes  supplementary  material/ 





Planches  et/ou  illustrations  en  couleur 

Bound  with  other  material/ 
Reli^  avec  d'autres  documents 

Tight  binding  may  cause  shadows  or  distortion 
along  interior  margin/ 

Lareliure  serr6e  peut  causer  de  I'ombre  ou  de  la 
distortion  le  long  de  la  marge  int6rieure 

Blank  leaves  added  during  restoration  may 
appear  within  the  text.  Whenever  possible,  these 
have  been  omitted  from  filming/ 
II  se  peut  que  certaines  pages  blanches  ajoutSes 
tors  d'une  restauration  apparaissent  dans  le  Vaxte. 
mais.  lorsque  cela  6tait  possible,  ces  pages  n'ont 
pas  6t6  film6es. 

Additional  comments:/ 
Commentaires  suppl6mentaires; 


to  til 

of  tl 








or  il 

Comprend  du  materiel  supplementaire 

Only  edition  available/ 
Seule  Edition  disponible 

Pages  wholly  or  partially  obsci  ed  by  errata 
slips,  tissues,  etc..  have  been  refilmed  to 
ensure  the  best  possible  image/ 
Les  pages  totalement  ou  partiellement 
obscurcies  par  un  feuillet  d'errata,  une  pelure. 
etc.,  ont  6t^  film^es  i  nouveau  de  fagon  it 
obtenir  la  meilleure  image  possible. 



This  item  is  filmed  at  the  reduction  ratio  checked  below/ 

Ce  document  est  fiimi  au  taux  de  reduction  indiqu6  ci-dessous. 





















The  copy  filmed  here  has  been  reproduced  thanks 
to  the  generosity  of: 

University  of  Toronto  Library 

The  images  appearing  here  are  the  best  quaiity 
possible  considering  the  condition  and  legibility 
of  the  original  copy  and  in  keeping  with  the 
filming  contract  specifications. 

Original  copies  in  printed  paper  covers  are  filmed 
beginning  with  the  front  cover  and  ending  on 
the  last  page  with  a  printed  or  illustrated  impres- 
sion, or  the  back  cover  when  appropriate.  All 
other  original  copies  are  filmed  beginning  on  the 
first  page  with  a  printed  or  illustrated  impres- 
sion, and  ending  on  the  last  page  with  a  printed 
or  illustrated  impression. 

The  last  recorded  frame  on  each  microfiche 
shall  contain  the  symbol  — ^  (meaning  "CON- 
TINUED"), or  the  symbol  V  (meaning  "END"), 
whichever  applies. 

IVIaps,  plates,  charts,  etc.,  may  be  filmed  at 
different  reduction  ratios.  Those  too  large  to  be 
entirely  included  in  one  exposure  are  filmed 
beginning  in  the  upper  left  hand  corner,  left  to 
right  and  top  to  bottom,  as  many  frames  as 
required.  The  following  diagrams  illustrate  the 




L'exemplaire  fiim6  fut  reproduit  grAce  A  la 
gAnArositi  de: 

University  of  Toronto  Library 

Les  images  suivantes  ont  4t4  reproduites  avec  le 
plus  grand  soin,  compte  tenu  de  la  condition  at 
de  la  nettet6  de  l'exemplaire  film6,  et  en 
conformity  avec  les  conditions  du  contrat  de 

Les  exemplaires  originaux  dont  la  couverture  en 
papier  est  imprimis  sont  film6s  en  commen^ant 
par  le  premier  plat  et  en  terminant  soit  par  la 
dernidre  page  qui  comporte  une  empreinte 
d'impression  ou  d'illustration,  soit  par  le  second 
plat,  salon  le  cas.  Tous  les  autres  exemplaires 
originaux  sont  filmis  en  commenpant  par  la 
premidre  page  qui  comporte  une  empreinte 
d'impression  ou  d'illustration  et  en  terminant  par 
la  dernidre  page  qui  comporte  une  telle 

Un  des  symboles  suivants  apparaTtra  sur  la 
dernidre  image  de  cheque  microfiche,  selon  le 
cas:  le  symbole  — ►  signifie  "A  SUIVRE".  le 
symbole  y  signifie  "FIN". 

Les  cartes,  planches,  tableaux,  etc.,  peuvent  Atre 
film6s  d  des  taux  de  reduction  diffirents. 
Lorsque  le  document  est  trop  grand  pour  Atre 
reproduit  en  un  seul  clichA,  11  est  filmA  d  partir 
de  Tangle  sup6rieur  gauche,  de  gauche  A  droite, 
et  de  haut  en  bas.  en  prenant  le  nombre 
d'images  nAcessaire.  Les  diagrammes  suivants 
illustrent  la  mAthode. 









hospital  to  check  the  contamination  of  disease  among  the  young, 
and  in  the  schools,  to  send  our  children  trained  in  a  higher  civi- 
lization, carrying  with  them  and  putting  in  practice  the  informa- 
tion gained  in  their  years  of  study  and  mental  and  mechanical 
training.  This  work  can  only  be  accomplished  by  Government, 
and  the  question  rests  with  our  legislators  at  Washington  whether 
the  proper  steps  be  taken  immediately  to  save  a  race,  with  the 
bright  promise  of  usefulness  which  this  race  possesses,  if  cared 
for,  or  whether  they  shall  be  left  to  drift  on  without  thought  or 
care  to  that  extinction  to  which  they  are  surely  doomed  unless 
the  Government  at  Washington  stretches  out  its  strong  arm  to 
save  them. 


By  James  Deans. 

This  remarkable  legend  I  found  amongst  the  Haida  tribes  of 
Queen  C^harlotte's  islands,  British  Columbia.  Although  only  a 
legend,  it  contains  historical  data  enough  to  shed  a  gleiim  of 
light  on  the  long-forgotten  migrations  ot  the  early  inhabitants 
of  Northwestern  America.  And  as  such  it  is  well  worth  pre- 
serving, not  only  in  the  valuable  pages  of  The  American 
Antiquarian,  but  by  all  and  every  one  who  take  an  interest 
in  the  subject  in  America  and  in  other  countries  as  well.  But  I 
must  to  the  main  point  of  my  story,  Skaga  Belus. 

Skaga  is  the  name  in  the  Haida  language  for  a  doctor  or 
medicine  man.  The  words  Skah gilda,  from  which  skrga  is  a 
contraction,  means  one  with  long  hair,  from  their  never  utting 
their  hair,  but  always  wearing  it  rolled  up  in  a  bunch  on  the 
top  of  the  head.  This  makes  them  resemble  the  figures  on  the 
tablets  in  the  ruined  cities  ♦  South  America.  If  those  figures 
were  priests,  so  likewise  were  the  Skaga,  whose  functions 
amongst  the  Haidas  is  all  that  remains  of  an  ancient  priesthood 
— a  fact  of  which  I  have  many  proofs.  I  have  heard  of  many 
famous  ones,  but  the  greatest  of  them  all  was  the  subject  of  my 
story.  Skaga  Beelas  or  Belus  was  the  most  famous  as  well 
as  the  most  remarkable  of  all  who  ever  lived  in  Haida  land  or 
amongst  any  of  the  tribes  on  this  Northwest  coast.  The 
account  given  of  him  by  the  Haida  tribes  is  as  follows  : 

Very  long  ago,  our  fathers  and  mothers  tell  us,  lived  a  good 
Skaga.  He  was  the  best  man  that  ever  lived  in  Haida  land  ; 
he  was  good  end  kind  of  heart,  ever  ready  to  attend  the  sick 
and  to  help  the  poor  and  distressed  ;  always  advising  the  people 
to  love  each  other,  because,  he  said,  if  they  lived  in  unity  there 
would  be  no  wars  rior  bloodshed,  nor  no  theiving;  all  the  Haida 
tribes,  instead  of  fighting  and  trying  to  destroy  each  other, 
would  live  and  love  one  another  like  brothers  and  sisters.   After 


;•    I'! 





living  amongst  them  many  years,  and  having  gained  the  respect 
of  these  people  from  the  eldest  to  the  youngest,  he  called  them 
together  and,  to  their  sorrow,  told  them  that  he  was  going  to 
leave  them  ;  that  they  were  not  to  grieve  over  his  absence, 
because  after  a  while  he  would  return  and  never  again  leave 
thetn.  So  wishing  them  all  keel-slie  (farewell),  he  took  his  de- 
parture. As  to  the  mode  of  his  going  away  I  may  say  a  few 
words.  Some  of  the  people  say  he  died  and  was  buried;  others 
of  them  say  that  his  body  lay  dead  for  a  year  and  that  his  soul 
went  to  heaven,  where  it  heard  and  saw  wonderful  things,  along 
with  their  parents,  in  the  beautiful  country  to  which  they  had 
all  gone.  He  told  them  that  all  who  while  here  had  led  good 
lives  were  happy  in  that  beautiful  country  beyond,  and  that  at 
the  end  of  life's  journey  would  not  only  be  met  by  their  relations 
gone  before,  but  would  each  one  of  them  have  homes  prepared 
for  them  corresponding  in  beauty  to  the  lives  led  by  them  while 
on  earth. 

When  he  left  he  was  sorely  missed  by  all  the  people,  who 
never  failed  to  look  forward  to  his  return.  At  the  end  of  a 
year's  absence  he  suddenly  made  his  appearance  amongst  them 
again.  After  he  returned  he  lived  with  them  so  long  and  grew 
so  old,  that  excepting  his  spine,  which  alone  he  could  use  to 
move  his  back,  all  other  parts  of  his  body  were  dead  and 
shrunken.  If  his  life  before  he  left  was  good,  after  his  return 
it  was  better.  Still  anxious  to  teach  them  everything  good,  the 
more  earnest  was  he  to  urge  them  to  love  and  help  each  other, 
and  above  all  -o  keep  from  inter-tribal  wars.  He  further  told 
them,  if  they  did  so  they  would  become  a  great,  a  happy  and  a 
prosperous  people.  If,  on  the  contrar}',  they  fought  tribe  against 
tribe  and  made  slaves  of  their  brothers  and  sisters,  they  would 
become  weak,  because  few  in  numbers,  and  at  last  a  fair  com- 
plexioned  race  of  people  from  the  land  of  the  rising  sun  would 
come  and  take  possession  of  their  country  and  all  their  belong- 
ings, until  their  existence  as  a  people  would  cease,  their  name 
be  forgotten,  and  of  their  language  nothing  but  a  few  names  of 
places  would  remain.  When  these  people  came,  thev  (the 
Haidas)  were  neither  to  kill  nor  ill  treat  them,  because  they 
would  bring  amongst  them  implements  far  better  than  the  rude 
stone  ones  then  in  use.  And  he  also  told  them  that  these  people 
would  give  them  a  new  and  better  sort  of  food.  He,  tradition 
says,  conversed  with  them  after  that  manner  as  long  as  his 
strength  lasted,  and  with  his  latest  breath  could  be  heard  to  say, 
"Be  kind  to  each  other." 

By  the  new  sort  of  implements,  the  Haidas  of  to-day  con- 
sider the  small  iron  adzes  (called  toes)  brought  amongst  them 
by  the  earliest  traders,  and  the  axes  and  other  tools  of  the 
present  day,  a  fulfillment  of  the  first  part  of  the  prophecy; 
flour  is  considered  a  fultillent  of  the  latter  part,  while  we  colo- 
nists are  believed  by  them  to  be  the  fair  strangers  from  the  east. 



The  Haidas  are  keen  traders,  and  they  have  often  told  me 
that  they  were  so  out  of  respect  to  Belus.  They  also  boast 
that  they  never  killed  a  white  man,  for  the  saine  reason. 

As  regards  the  weird  song  which  affected  me  so  much,  this 
may  be  said:  Belus,  it  seems,  told  them  that  along  with  the 
evils  which  would  befall  them  following  their  decadence  would 
be  dreadful  diseases,  which  coming  amongst  them  would  spare 
neither  youth  nor  age,  and  for  the  loss  of  their  relations  they 
would  naturally  feel  bad;  so  as  a  means  of  relief  he  recom- 
mended them  to  hold  sittings  as  before  mentioned,  because, 
said  he,  by  coming  to  your  sittings  your  spirit  friends,  as  well 
as  those  who  died  before  their  time,  would  be  able  to  learn 
something  whereby  they  would  be  enabled  to  advance  to  higher 
homes  (spheres),  while  presence  at  your  sittings  would  cheer 
the  lot  of  those  left  behind.  Besides  these  admonitions,  he  also 
taught  them  the  above  mentioned  song,  or  rather  I  should  say 
lament,  because  it  may  truly  be  considered  as  one — the  lament 
of  Skaga  Belus,  a  lament  not  only  for  the  dear  departed,  but 
for  the  failing  fortunes  of  the  Haida  people.  He  also  told  them 
that  every  time  they  met,  in  order  to  commune  with  their  spirit 
friends,  they  were  to  sing  it  just  before  leaving  for  their  homes. 
This  they  never  failed  to  do,  with  its  slow,  weird  and  mournful 
numbers.  The  tune  somewhat  resembles  the  one  usually  sung 
in  Scotland  to  the  song  "Land  o'  the  Leal,"  or  to  some  of  the 
d/aii  orans  (mournlul  songs)  of  our  Scottish  Yeal.  As  far  as 
the  words  are  concerned,  1  am  unable  to  give  them,  although  I 
have  tried  for  years  to  get  them  correct  During  a  four  months' 
stay  with  the  Haidas  the  past  summer  (1889),  I  tried  hard  to 
get  the  words  and  tune;  to  my  surprise  I  could  not  find  one 
who  knew  anything  of  Skaga  Belus,  although  in  the  s>ame  tribe 
twenty  years  ago  every  one,  from  the  oldest  to  the  youngest, 
knew  him  and  sung  his  song.  Instead  of  these  weird  songs  of 
olden  times,  which  now  are  seldom  heard,  such  new  ones  (to 
these  people)  as  ''Nearer  My  God  to  Thee,"  etc.,  can  be  heard 
any  time,  day  or  night. 

In  conclusion,  I  shall  say  a  few  words  while  asking  the  ques- 
tion, Who  was  Belus? 

Bol,  Bel,  Beluus,  Belus,  Baal,  or  as  the  Greeks  called  him, 
Apollo,  was  first  king  of  Assyria.  He  conquered  Babylonia 
from  the  Arabians,  over  which  he  reigned  for  twenty-seven 
years — from  1993  to  1966  B.  C,  or  about  four  thousand  years 
ago.  After  his  death  his  son  Ninus  caused  him  to  be  placed 
amongst  the  gods,  and  he  was  worshiped  as  the  sun  at  divers 
places  and  by  divers  people.  The  Jews  had  a  temple  wherein 
to  worship  him,  with  a  grove  arund  it.*  The  Babylonians  also 
had  a  temple  for  his  worship. f    This  temple  was  the  most  an- 

♦Toseplius,  AnttquUles,  Vol.  I. 
tlbld..  Vol.  II,  10.; 

\^%  I  M 



]  V     ■■  ■:.  ^111 

,1    ' 


1   / 

.'■^l  '!': 

'i.\  i 





i  -J' !  ' 

cienl  and  became  the  most  magnificent  at  one  time  in  the  world. 
Amongst  the  British  Druids  May-daj'  was  called  .6ei7  Tcine 
(Belus  fire),  because  on  that  day  they  burned  large  fires  to 
liiel.  In  the  low-lands  of  Scotland  a  bone  or  large  fire  is  called 
Beil-fire  to  this  day. 

Tiie  Chiapanecs,  a  very  old  branch  of  the  Toltecs,  say  they 
were  descended  from  Cham  (Ham),  the  son  of  Noah,  and  that 
the  first  settler  in  Chiapas  was  Mae,or  Imoe,  or,  as  he  is  oltener 
called,  Ninus.  This  Ninus  was  the  son  of  Belo  (Bel"s),  who 
was  the  son  of  Nimrod,  who  was  the  son  of  Chus,  who  was 
the  grandson  of  Ham.  When  or  where  these  Chiapanecs  got 
the  name  Belo  o.-  Belus,  I  can  not  say ;  but  wherever  they  got 
it,  it  no  doubt  was  from  a  people  who  pronounced  the  name 
Bel,  Belus  or  Belinus,  and  not  from  a  people  who  called  it  Baal. 
In  looking  over  the  pages  of  ancient  history  we  find  that  the 
Pelasgi  or  Syrians,  who  lived  on  the  sea  coast  of  that  country, 
pronounced  it  Bel.  No  doubt  from  these  Pelasgi,  who  were 
great  sailors,  and  were  found  all  over  the  (then)  known  world, 
as  well  as  making  a  settlement  in  Greece  about  1883,  B.  C, 
came  the  Bel,  Belus  or  Belinus  into  the  west.  How  the  Haidas 
came  to  get  the  name  I  have  so  far  been  unable  to  find  any  clue, 
except  that  the  name  is  pronounced  Belus  instead  of  Baal.  It 
is  strange  that  a  people  living  so  remote  as  the  Haidas  should 
be,  as  well  as  most  of  the  ancient  nations,  acquainted  with  Be- 
lus. They  did  not  get  the  name  from  our  people — quite  the 
reverse.  The  story  has  passed  through  unnumbered  ages 
down  among  them  from  sire  to  sun.  Not  the  least  strange  is  it 
that  it  was  Belus  who  first  taught  them  the  occult  sciences  and 
to  practice  them  as  used  to  be  done  in  ancient  times. 

There  was  nothing  revolting  in  their  meetings.  Each  person 
would  sit  quietly  down  alongside  of  each  other,  until  an  oval 
was  formed,  at  one  end  of  which  was  a  small  fire;  at  the  other 
end,  next  the  door  sat  the  Skaga  or  medium.  After  a  little 
quiet  conversation  one  of  the  number  would  take  up  a  song,  in 
which  all  but  the  Skaga  would  join.  The  song  would  be  like 
the  following:  "The  good  Skaga  is  here  to-night,  E  ha  ha,  hac 
hoo.  And  through  him  our  friends  of  the  a-wohl  (feast  time) 
will  come.  Hydrel,  hydrel  (come,  come),  hak-weet  (quickly)," 
etc.  While  the  Skaga  was  talking  all  was  quiet,  unless  a  ques- 
tion was  asked  of  the  control.  In  the  time  between  one  control 
leaving  and  the  next  one  taking  possession  they  also  used  to 
sing,  how  glad  they  were  again  to  hear  from  him,  or  her,  as  the 
case  might  be.  And  so  on  to  the  end,  when  finishing  up  with 
Belus'  song,  all  went  to  bed.  Judge  Swan,  of  Port  Townsend, 
thinks  the  Haidas  are  descendants  of  the  ancient  Aztecs.  I 
believe  myself  that  in  remote  times  some  connection  existed  be- 
tween them.